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Please help me think clearly...

  • Troy
    Troy Ramos
    <p>I am in a deep conundrum...</p>
    <p>John Kovac has a 36-string paraguayan harp kit that can be had for $725 (not including shipping).  He is even willing to modify the harp neck to accommodate sharping levers for me.  The levers will cost about $500.  If I pay a local luthier to put all of these together for me, all of these will cost me about $1575 for the harp (assuming the shipping for the kit were $100 and shipping for the levers were $50 and luthier fee were $200).  What do you think?  Is this a good deal?  I love the prospect of being able to play the paraguayan harp with all those special effects it is capable of.  But we all know this would take a couple of years of dedicated study, and time is something that is not a luxury for me at this time (unless I quit all my choral activities and free up some time to fully devote to it).  So right now, it really feels like I am chasing a pipe dream.  But I think a harp would be nice thing to have around even if just for display and a conversation starter piece.  If I am going through with this, then I would have to do this fast while the CDN dollar is on par with US dollar.  But I am also having reservations because something inside me is telling me that my money may be better used somewhere else (e.g. travel and vacation).</p>
    <p>I need someone to bounce off these ideas to.  I need some clarity and right now my mind is fogged by desire for this harp.  I need someone to talk me out of it if it is going to be impractical to buy one.  I've paid $2000 for a japanese keyboard that I still haven't learned to play even after three years, and so far I have no regrets, and happy with it (of course I would be even happier if I could play it well and show off to my family and friends).</p>
    <p>On the other side of this coin is a 30-string cross-strung harp by Stoney End music shop in Minnesota.  It is $1799 fully built or $1099 sold as a kit.  Shipping is around $100 according to the owner.  To build the kit will require some woodworking knowledge and tools.  The shop owner's wife offered that if I drive over to their place (since I live in Manitoba which is 10 hours away), they will put me up in their guest room, and for an extra $100, they will build the harp kit for me with me helping out in the gluing, making all the bridge pins the correct length and learning the technique for stringing, shaping and sanding.  It sounds like a sweet deal to me.  What do you think?</p>
    <p>As you can see, I am quite torn -- both harps sound lovely (check them out on Youtube) and just look at all the great deals I am getting.  But I really need some clarity.  Can you talk some sense to me please?</p>
    <p>All of these started because I just wanted to buy a cardboard dulcimer (which links to a cardboard harp which links to folk harps which links to Youtube of all these fantastic paraguayan harpists which sparked this wild craving to own one myself).</p>
    <p>Help!  What should I do?  Do you know anybody who can talk some sense into me?</p>
    <p>I would appreciate any advice you have to offer!!  Please!</p>
    <p style="margin-bottom: 0px;">~~~
    replies to "Please help me think clearly..."
    • Tacye
      Tacye Phillipson

      One more thing to think about - both the harps you have mentioned are relatively unusual varieties.  Should you go for a more common harp there will be a greater choice of resources to draw on - music, tutor books and videos, courses and maybe even other harpists in the area. 

    • Sherry
      Sherry Lenox

      Look at the kits on the Musicmakers website, and listen to the tone of the Smartwood harp.

    • Deb
      Deb L

      better not to rush such a decision.  Think how long it took to earn that money.  Don't spend foolishly on impulse.  Rent a harp and preferably take lessons for a while till you know whether or not it's for you.  Just because you don't buy a harp now doesn't mean you won't be able to do so in the future.  If you spend now and realize a different calling later you may not be able to afford it then and what kind of conversation will your display harp bring then?

    • Susan
      Susan Ash

      Compared to the cost of most harps...yes the price is less.  And, you are excited about the sound of the harp (so understandable) and can't wait to have one and begin making that beautiful music yourself....and you have found a harp at a price point so that you can make that happen.  But in reality the excitement rapidly turns to frustration when you touch your harp and it doesn't make beautiful sounds because you don't know how to play.  I am speaking from experience, and not being critical, just realistic.  I couldn't wait to have a harp and then it sat doing nothing (nothing but collecting dust and making me feel guilty for the waste of money) for 3 years, and I already played piano so I knew music.  The reality is a harp is a challenge to learn to play correctly.   Two years ago I started lessons and now it finally makes the beautiful music.
      As was stated in another reply....rent a harp.  And, it is so important to have lessons lined up...in person is best, but lacking that take them via Skype.
      Your excitement and desire is wonderful....but have a plan in place of what you will do exactly with the harp once it is bought, assembled, and is sitting in your home.

    • Troy
      Troy Ramos
      <p>I think God has sent me a few lifelines...</p>
      <p>John K. is away on vacation till March 1. And I found a luthier school/music shop that offers six 1-hour harp lessons for $90. Although the lessons are going to be done on Celtic harps, so I do not know if the skills learned would transfer to the paraguayan harp. This will give me a few weeks more to think and at the same time learn.</p>
      <p>I must have forgotten to mention in my original post that John has several instructional books and DVDs on paraguayan harp for sale as well to go along with his harp kit.  There are also Alfredo Ortiz's books.</p>
      <p>I found out yesterday that there's a lady who grew up playing the paraguayan harp since she was 10 years old. But she is mainly a harp player/performer. I will need to contact and ask her if  she would be willing to give me a few lessons in paraguayan harp playing.</p>
      <p>Aside from her, there are two other harp teachers I found out about. One plays pedal harp so I do not know if she gives lessons on folk harps at all. The other is mainly a healthcare musician and gives lesson on Celtic harp.</p>
      <p>But all in due time.</p>
      <p>Thank you to all the people who responded to my plea. You all had been enlightening to me. I am sure they will enlighten someone else who find himself in my position.</p>
      <p style="margin-bottom: 0px;">~~~
    • Deb
      Deb L

      hi Troy, I picked up this email address from a yahoo harplist group, a skype teacher of paraguayan harp, maybe it will be useful to you.  Ortiz's books are excellent too.  hope you keep us posted with your adventure.


    • Troy
      Troy Ramos

      Hi Deb, thanks for the link. I will keep in my files for future use. I also found this website of Nicolas Carter who can give lessons on Skype, except that his website only has his telephone number and not much else.


    • Deb
      Deb L

      his contact info including email is under programs available.  He's an amazing harper, and teaches traditional method by ear.